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Thread: What's Wrong With TED? or Why is cool future so hard?

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    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    What's Wrong With TED? or Why is cool future so hard?



    Critique of TED and Culture "To me, TED stands for middle brow mega-church infotainment" and needs "more Copernicus, less Tony Robbins."

    A nice scathing talk, to me a better indictment of culture than TED. My interpretation, entertainment does not drive real progress, magic ideas don't change the world and we as a collective are focusing on all the wrong things.

    SO

    Why is this cool future, which seems possible, so difficult? Is it TED's fault? Money's fault? People are stupid's fault? None of the above? Or is the cool future actually impossible and a dystopian future a 99.9% probability? THINK.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Starjots View Post
    [video=youtube;Yo5cKRmJaf0]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo5cKRmJaf0[/video

    Why is this cool future, which seems possible, so difficult? Is it TED's fault? Money's fault? People are stupid's fault? None of the above? Or is the cool future actually impossible and a dystopian future a 99.9% probability? THINK.
    He makes some interesting and possibly valid points about cultures emphasis on technology and science vs raw politics to solve problems, but the fact that he's picking on TED just seems odd. It's as if he thinks information on science and technology should be censored to prevent the unwashed masses garnering false hope. Just odd. Like, I almost feel like the video should be in the onion?

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    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
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    There are multiple reasons. Some easy ones:

    1) Many TED talks are essentially advertisements and attempts to build hype for someone's project (which is sometimes themselves). As such, they are almost by nature horrible over-simplifications, over-hyping, etc. This might not be so bad if it was just unbiased over-simplification by itself. But because its basically an ad/pitch, its over-simplification with an obscurantist goal: to hype the product as much as possible while hiding anything negative/problems/skepticism.

    2) Most people don't want change. The system itself, does not want change. If TED ever actually got to the point of promoting or thinking about such topics, it would be shut down/marginalized. In the US for example, you are basically forbidden from seriously engaging in analysis of power, corruption, class, capitalism, democracy or anything too insightful, incisive or high-falutin-ly introspective as regards the current establishment of society. If you do, you become a "radical/academic/lefty/commie/monster/insert-dismissive-label-here". And you can choose to become that on an individual or localised level to some degree, and might even be allowed to live provided you don't get TOO powerful, but you can't be a big organisation or event. If you did, the illusion of freedom would be broken (at least for you), and you'd soon find yourself on the receiving end of the propaganda arm: media, and the state's physical force arms: police, military, security agencies.

    TED then, by definition, must innovate and discuss intellectual concepts without innovating and discussing intellectual concepts that are too dangerous. And that basically boils down to products you might like to buy in the future, wishy-washy feel-good speeches (about futures that will never appear but make you feel involved in such futures, or ideologies that largely support or are non-threatening to the current establishment), and research for institutions and corporates.

    Incidentally, this "cool future" is itself an idea basically there to placate. It tells you we're on the right track, that innovation continues nicely, and to just keep taking part. It largely ignores remote murder by drones, social power and conflict, the failure of laws/intellectual property, serious critiques of capitalism, mass surveillance, and the disproportionate influence of government/armed forces in most research, etc, etc.

    Sure my nation-state remotely killed X thousand people/civilians last year, but i have a smart phone god damn it!

  4. #4
    I've just never thought of TED as anything more than casual entertainment. I find it amusing that TED would be pointed out as a major cause of the culture of consumption. Where's @Roger Mexico when you need him? I suspect he could give a proper lecture on the history behind our consumptive ways going back to the early 20th century grain farmers. If Roger Mexico say's TED's a part of the disease, rather than just a symptom, I'll be more receptive to the idea.

  5. #5
    Member rhinosaur's Avatar
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    It's better entertainment than a lot of other things one could watch. Better for a layman to gain an interest in real science through TED than not.

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    HIISSS! Jimothy's Avatar
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    I have no problem with TED. I think entertainment can be a viable education source. And it's a notch above most. Why expect the world from it?

    This guy, however, I cannot respect. I have a dream? Wise old sleeves? Gimmie a break hotshot.

    every sunday morning

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    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
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    I've just never thought of TED as anything more than casual entertainment. I find it amusing that TED would be pointed out as a major cause of the culture of consumption
    Oh, and that's the thing. I actually like TED for what it is: a few quick minutes of entertainment on a variety of interesting topics.

    Its a bit strange that people think its something more, but there it is. I'm guessing they bought into their own hype.

    I don't think its a cause of the culture of consumption, per se. It just fits into the current culture and thus supports it like most of the things we consume and entertain ourselves with.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    Reading this article it sounds like TED thinks it is something more, a giant idea exchange.

    http://www.theverge.com/2013/3/5/406...e-in-the-world

    And it is like a cult; an atheist cult, an idea cult. But the rituals are vague, genuflection a social interaction and not a subjugation. There is an undeniable religious air to the thing, not just the rules and and the isolation, the exclusivity — but the tone of thinking, a pathological pressure to remain open-minded. If Judeo-Christian religions operate effectively by empirically answering questions and avoiding inquisition, TED works in the reverse, shunning the very concept of knowing — asking only that you bring an open mind. That your mind remains forever open, questioning. Questioning, but never quite judging.

    Part of that feeling is driven by the fact that there really isn’t debate at TED. Debate amongst attendees, late at night, over drinks, certainly — but even those debates feel guarded, protective of the speaker’s ideas. Scared to offend, the debater perhaps worried that they will be identified as closed minded, or that they’ll appear to have missed the point.
    So there are two TEDs: TED the conference/organization for the uppercrust swapping ideas and TED the causal entertainment of the enlightened. Being progressive always admits a hundred different paths, none of which will turn out to be exactly right. So why argue about it? At the same time, this defeats any organizing ability and turns it into a 'let's hope for the best' sort of thing, an act of faith and not one of will.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ACow View Post
    Incidentally, this "cool future" is itself an idea basically there to placate. It tells you we're on the right track, that innovation continues nicely, and to just keep taking part. It largely ignores remote murder by drones, social power and conflict, the failure of laws/intellectual property, serious critiques of capitalism, mass surveillance, and the disproportionate influence of government/armed forces in most research, etc, etc.

    http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/against-ted/
    This person agrees.

    There are consequences to having this style of discourse dominate how technology’s role in society is understood. Where are the voices critical of corporatism? Where is there space to reach larger publics without having to take on the role of a salesperson, preacher, or self-help guru? Academics, for instance, have largely surrendered the ground of mainstream conversations about technology to business folks in the TED atmosphere.Can a new wave of technology thinkers produce a fresh outlet for smart ideas not (yet) co-opted as badly as TED? If so, it won’t come from the well-financed centers of Silicon Valley but from the margins, the actual cutting edge.

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    All the TED talks I've ever seen were either 10 minutes of bullshit, or one sentence of useful information buried in 10 minutes of bullshit. But the audience and speaker always act like it some kind of mind-blowing revelation. Kind of like watching street performers in Santa Monica.

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